5 Jobs in Art

Are you a creative who cannot think about anything else? Do you yearn for a full time job that allows you to enjoy yourself and love every day? You need to find a job that gives you that satisfaction that you need, without losing your integrity. I understand. My life has been a search for a job that suits my needs; but as life is constantly evolving, we must too.

Whatever stage in your career you are at, here are 10 visual arts jobs which may just be the income and output that you need:

  1. Illustration
    By definition, this means providing visual narratives to run alongside a written or verbal narrative. It has huge scope for whatever your drawing skills are. Illustration can include children’s book images, broadsheet satire, product packaging & labels, signage… it’s everywhere.

    Technology has made illustration far more accessible without an associated degree, but the benefits of gaining one in a world where everyone wants to give it a go, will give you extra weight. Your earnings can vary enormously, but it is generally understood that you take in to consideration your experience, your position in the marketplace & demand for your work, the organisation who wants your work, whether they want to own or licence the images and how widespread your images will be used.

    Advantages: You can manage your workload, negotiate your value and take your work with you.
    Disadvantages: You are in a saturated workplace with employers at the advantage.
    Advice: Make yourself and your work unique. Offer something new.
  2. Apparel
    It’s easy to create your own designs and get a company to print them on to clothing these days. You can have images on t-shirts, hats, jackets etc, or even go a step further and design a repeat pattern to be applied to rolls of fabric. As with Illustration, this has its good and bad points. If you have a visual arts degree in fashion or textiles, you will be better equipped to understand the processes behind the end product, such as screen printing vs heat press. This is something you can learn though, so don’t be put off.

    If it’s something you are interested in, its a good idea to look at what is already out there, look at what is trending and follow fashion outlets that appeal to your target customer. Whether you want to create whole fabric patterns, or t-shirt and hoodie prints, explore your costs. Print on demand gives very little profit to the designer, where taking control of your own printmaking means you can buy wholesale raw materials and push your income further.

    Advantages: Your products advertise themselves and can flourish quickly.
    Disadvantages: Start up is expensive.
    Advice: Find ways to be sustainable and eco friendly. Fast Fashion is a thing of the past.
  3. Teacher
    This will require further education. In the UK you can do a specific teaching degree, or a specialised subject followed by a recognised teaching course, such as the PGCE.

    Teaching is an extremely rewarding job where you are literally passing your knowledge and skill to the next generation. However, be warned that the actual artwork that you will engage in is minimal. Your role as a teacher is to model and then measure progress. The amount of data and paperwork you will need to complete, will outweigh any creativity you think the job involves. This is not a job for a free spirited creative as you will spend most of your time behind a laptop rather than an easel.

    Your earning potential is stable. Teachers have 2 pay scales – the Main Pay Scale and the Upper Pay Scale. You access the second by going through what is called ‘threshold’, which is a process of proving to the school that you are delivering outstanding lessons, achieving high progress from students and offering yourself to the wider school community via clubs and initiatives. You can also increase earnings though leadership roles that can bolt on to your teaching, such as Head of Department or Head of Year. But again, you’re stepping further away from your creativity and getting more data and report writing involved.

    Advantages: A stable income with rare job losses.
    Disadvantages: Creatively prohibitive.
    Advice: Find a school that genuinely champions the arts.
  4. Content Creator
    This is a relatively new job which suits millennials and post covid workers to the ground. You can work from home and it’s generally as flexible as you like. A content creator provides written and visual information of use across social media platforms. Usually working freelance, you would have a contract with one or more organisations which have an agreement to produce a number of advertising or blogging posts per day/week/month on their behalf.

    This role is exciting and enjoyable, but does involve research, outstanding literacy and a working knowledge of ICT and marketing. A Graphic Design Degree is often the best route in, but equally an English or Journalism qualification is just as appealing to employers.

    Your earnings are weighted according to your experience, credentials and demand. You will need to prove yourself as successful in raising profiles through carefully targeted visual content.

    Advantages: Take your job with you anywhere and enjoy the flexible working hours.
    Disadvantages: Lots of screen time and an extremely competitive industry.
    Advice: Don’t undervalue your time. Your input, if successful, can make or break a company.

  5. Freelance Art/Crafter
    Simply, take whatever you love to make and sell it! Its not as easy as you think but can be so rewarding. Sites like Etsy, Folksy and Not On The Highstreet are bursting with creatives who have shunned the 9-5 in favour of working for themselves. From hand made furniture to personalised keyrings, its all there.

    There is a lot to consider if you decide to set up a creative business. Firstly, you must not make or sell anything that is a potential copyright infringement – no Disney, Squid Games, MacDonalds etc. Its surprising how tough these companies are on small businesses. They employ people simply to browse and seek out infringements and then issue cease and desist notices.

    depending on what you are selling you may need licensing and permission from the council. Forexample, food requires Hygiene certificates, anything for children needs to be CE tested. You will also need public liability insurance which is surprisingly cheap year on year. It sounds overwhelming, but once its all in place its just ticking along and you can get on with creating.

    Also, you need to make sure you are making a profit. This sounds odd, but you can become so immersed in what you are doing that you keep putting money in and not seeing it come back. This includes Tax – at the moment you don’t have to pay any tax on the first £1000 you earn in 12 months, but after that you need to start doing self assessment returns. Please check it all though and don’t rely on me! You can make a respectable income from this; it all relies on how much time and effort you put in to it.

    Advantages: Independence, control and creative freedom!
    Disadvantages: So many laws, regulations and taxes to learn about.
    Advice: Research, join creative groups and talk to other people. They’ll give you their knowledge and experience for free.

I hope this has been of use to you! I know that it’s hard when you’re a creative. You can’t convince yourself to do something repetitive and boring but those are the jobs that pay and provide security. Keep looking though, don’t leave education in despair, there is so much out there now!

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